tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera March 29, 2014 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
and go behind the scenes a at aljazeera.com/techknow. >> you're watching "talk to al jazeera." our guest is world renown conductor zubin mehta. people who are unfamiliar with the music world, explain your role. >> well, a lot is communication. i have the good fortunate at this point in my life, to make music as with soloists that i know for years and years or young soloists who i have
auditioned and i choose to introduce. with both i work privately. the rehearsals and see what they have to say. how much i have to be flexible and flexibility musically speaking is very important. for the soloist to be flexible but mostly, for myself. so i have to be flexible. but you know, we are both free-thinking, free -- we supply in space together. and it's not as complicated as it sounds. >> there are some music critics who have suggested that with some conductors, not necessarily including you but some conductors that the dramatic arm movements according to these critics says more about the conductor tapconductor's ego thr responsibility. >> murveg is what you hear not -- music is what hear knot what you see. >> many
holocaust survivors recoil at the idea of playing wagner which is the favorite of the nazis. you trialed to get israel philharmonic to play it. it didn't work out. would you try it again? >> we will but we have to have patience. i hope it happens in my lifetime. i hope. but there are still quite a few people with tattooed numbers on their arms. they are revered saints in israel. not that they hate the music of wagner but it transports them back to the time of terror and we want to avoid that. >> ask there something that is the most awe struck that stood out in front of you or something you witnessed? >> i'm a musician, it's the music that keeps me awe struck. it is the interpretation of my
colleagues. but if you talk about an occasion, this orchestra has had many occasions which go down in their history as being very vitally significant. first time we played in berlin, after the war. 1971. and germans were really with tears in their eyes, especially at the end of the concert, when we played the israeli anthem. >> and what was that like for you and for members of the orchestra? >> well, i'm neither jewish nor israeli nor german. i was proud and honored to be part of this. daniel baroboyne was our soloist in that concert and it was an occasion that nobody will forget. another occasion was in 1982, we went across the border into lebanon. in those days, there was this war between the southern lebanese army and the north, and
fatah et cetera, and the israelis erected a good fence where doctors were treating wounded lebanese. right -- they are doing that now with syrians also. israeli doctors are helping out on the border. and we went across this border into southern lebanon into a tobacco field with the help of an israeli border police. we erected a stage and a sun stage for the orchestra and are only southern lebanese came to this concert. after the concert which lasted about an hour and 20 minutes they rushed on the stage, climbing on the stage, hugging the musicians, this is the lebanon and israel i would like to see today. unfortunately then in 1983 came the israeli invasion of lebanon for which the southern lebanese were very grateful in the beginning. long.
in the same southern lebanese turned to be the same suicide bombers, if you can imagine. this is how history turns through if you mind me saying so, mistakes of leaders. >> the relationship of israel you described as a marriage, it's going on now going on 50 years, in 1967 you went the israel to show solidarity during the six-day war. a marriage has its ups and downs -- >> ups and downs, a matter of daily discussion. yeah, we are a family. we are a family that, since we are cooperative orchestra we don't have a board of directors that raises, it's cooperatively that decides economic policy and musical policy, economic policy by themselves, musical policy as their
advisor. >> you were a conductor for 13 years, you have been associated with the los angeles philharmonic, the berlin philharmonic, you have very long relationships with them in a field that sometimes is nose or the use for conductors and musicians -- notorious for conductors and musicians hopping around. >> i've never hopped around. when i was in los angeles for 15 years i had always had the israeli philharmonic. that's where i would pendulate. i've conducted them every single season since 1961. i've passed my 50 year mark with both orchestras as with the israelis too. >> you have conducted orchestras in sarajevo and kashmir.
there seems to be conflict that draws one another, what is that? >> we plus not stop use our art to help people, bring people together. the sarajevo, we played a concert in the bombed courtyard of an islam ick library. one of the first things that the sesh serbs bombed was the courtyard of book. no public could be allowed it was only for television. but we did the rehearsals in the non-bombed theater. where three or four times it was full and the sarajevo public came to listen. it was my lifelong dream to have muslims and hindus, come and listen together. i didn't change history from the
end of that concert but they sat together and heard beethoven and tc hykofsky. >> india is very important to you. i wonder if you could describe your path from india to israel, i know it's a very long story. >> no, i'm still an indian with my pas passport. i studied in berlin. i got a call that a very venerable conductor eugene ormandy was ill. they had nobody, i had just conducted in philadelphia was in '61. i went there and it's very important to note that every conductor gets a first chance because of these older conductors falling sick. but then they conducted, then they invited me the second time. that's important.
because if i went there to help them out and nothing nuskly -- musically happened between us, they would say thank you very much and i would never see them again. but they invited me th second te the third time, and et cetera, et cetera. and that started the friendship with me and israel philharmonic and israel. >> in 1971 they made you conductor for life. >> that's an honor not a contract. >> what must it feel like? >> any conductor given that honor is something that you just dream of. it doesn't come every day. >> why did you become a conductor, why not play an instrument or -- >> always wanted to be. my father founded the bombay symphony orchestra, when he came back from america he continued as a soloist and conductor. i would prepare the musical parts for him. i would put the music on the
stands. i was his assistant. and i just always wanted to be associated with that orchestra. and then of course, through his love of symphonic music which he brought and imbibed in me, that's the music and that's the life i always wanted to have. >> you're 78 years old. how long do you want to keep doing this and what do you want >> al jazeera america presents a global finacial powerhouse >> the roman catholic church, they have an enormous amount of power >> accusations of corruption... >> there is a portion of the budget that takes care of all the clerical abuse issues. >> now we follow the money and take you inside the vatican's financial empire. >> when it comes to money, this is one of the sloppiest organizations on earth... >> al jazeera america presents... holy money only on al jazeera america
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world renowned orchestra conductor zubin mehta. i understand that you are a fan of the lated fromy mercury from the -- late freddy mercury from rock 'n' roll fame. can you explain that? >> i wasn't really a fan but in his obituary i read he was a farsi, i come from a really small minority in india, freddy mercury, balsara, a very common farsi name. he is a great performer. i'm not at home with his music. which is not also a criticism, it's just not my stuff. but he's a really great performer. and i'm sorry, i didn't meet him. >> rock 'n' roll you described as predictable. but what do you make of how popular it is and the effect it
has on pop culture? >> while it has had a pretty long life, when it first started some of us didn't think it would last but it has lasted. but recently in new york, i went to a theater where i saw a musical, dedicated 90 minutes to jazz. now, jazz is a style which has been dying out. and people like winton marsalis has reinvigorated this old style. 90 minutes of jazz, i was in heaven. that was the pop music that i grew.with. when i was a student in vienna i would go to concerts of louis armstrong and suddenly my youth came back to me with this marvelous performance of winton's band on stage
and excellent singers and tap dancing. so in other words i'm not falling into that world. >> do you ever watch musical shows like american idol -- >> i'm doing concerts when those shows go on. i don't watch television in the evenings. >> but the concept of amateur musicians getting up in frond of millions of people and maybe they have a hidden talent that coming out is there anything about -- >> i can tell you one thing, if i would send on one of these shows a talented american german or israeli violinist or musician, they would wipe all of them out. i'm talking about teenage musicians they are superb. i don't think the judges can judge them. they don't have the education. i have insulted all of them, i may be wrong. >> how about keith urban -- >> i don't know them. >> you mentioned you're
traveling a lot, you don't get a chance to watch tv. how do you decompress after your concerts, after your tours? >> i playback gam monda play back gam monda gammon with my wife. i've got it pretty settled everywhere. >> any food secrets that zubin mehta can share? >> i don't like japanese food. there you are. >> i'm sure they will at this concert. thank you for appearing on "talk
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